Summer has finally arrived and with it comes fireworks, barbecues, popsicles and of course, the beach. Coconut-scented suntan lotion, brightly colored swimsuits and hours spent building sand castles and chasing waves are what summer is all about for many of us.
Hand in hand with all of those seaside family adventures often comes dozens and dozens of family photos. And while having a good time at the beach is as easy as pie, taking good photos to preserve all of those sandy memories can be a bit of a challenge.
Here are 5 tips to help ensure all of those pictures you snap at the beach turn out just the way you want them to.
1. Use the natural light to your advantage.
The obvious abundance of natural light makes the beach seem like an ideal place to take pictures, but all of that sunny brightness can actually make taking a great picture a bit difficult.
Consider taking photos during the “golden hours” that occur one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. The soft lighting will give your pictures a wonderful hazy quality and you won’t have to worry about your family squinting because the sun is in their eyes or the bright back lighting that can make a group of happy beach-goers look shaded or washed out.
If you decide to take photos during the day, try to keep the sun to the side and slightly to the front of your photo subjects. Remember, you want to eliminate the need to squint, but you still need enough light on their faces to illuminate those fabulous summer smiles.
2. Keep your eye on the horizon.
Trying to get all of the kids, parents, grandparents and family pets to all look at the camera at the same time can be a challenge. But while you are playing the role of the “say cheese” ringmaster, take an extra second to consider your camera angle and the horizon. You want to try to keep the horizon in your photos as horizontal as possible.
And you’ll want to make sure the horizon doesn’t cut through anyone’s head or neck. Otherwise Uncle Pete will look like the water flows in one ear and right out of the other.
3. Don’t forget to check the background.
While you’re taking a quick peek at the horizon, do a quick scan of your background. Regular beach items like garbage cans, lifeguard signage and random strangers adjusting their swimsuits can make for awkward backdrops for your family photos.
Background scans aren’t just about avoiding eyesores. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting terrain or landmarks. Look for bits of green or interesting sand dunes.
And if you happen to be out at sunrise or sunset, don’t forget to use the amazing sky and water color to your advantage.
4. Consider color carefully.
Summertime is all about bright colors – everything from day glow orange to magenta and lime green. But if your goal is to capture a more formal family photo, consider your clothing colors carefully.
Use the scenery around you as inspiration for colors that will enhance instead of detract from your photos. Colors like white, khaki, blue, green and black are always safe bets.
That being said, if you’ve got a colorful beach umbrella or beach ball, don’t be afraid to throw that into the mix.
5. Have fun!
It is practically impossible to sit still and not smile while you are at the beach! Organized family photos have their place, but in addition to those perfectly staged shots, there should also be plenty of candid photos of your family enjoying the wind and surf.
Be careful not to drop your camera (or your phone) as sand can wreak havoc on lenses and internal mechanisms and we all know that a healthy dunk in the drink isn’t the best idea for any electronic device.
But don’t be afraid to let loose. Get a shot of the entire crew turning cartwheels or your spouse buried up to his neck in the sand. Those are the very moments that make beach memories worth having.